Senate Dems urge NIH to renew gun research grants

Senate Dems urge NIH to renew gun research grants
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Senate Democrats are calling on the National Institutes of Health to renew recently-lapsed funding for gun violence research following the Las Vegas concert shooting.

In a letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial MORE (Mass.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats cry foul over Schiff backlash Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Nadler gets under GOP's skin MORE (Conn.), and 21 others joined Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters MORE (I-Vt.) in saying that continuing the program is urgent.

“With 93 Americans dying per day from gun-related fatalities, it is critical that NIH dedicate a portion of its resources to the public health consequences of gun violence,” the senators wrote.

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Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama directed health agencies to begin funding research into firearms. The NIH awarded a total of $18 million for nearly two dozen research projects.

But the funding expired in January and the agency has yet to renew it.

The Dickey Amendment, which was inserted into a congressional spending bill in 1996, has effectively stopped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence.

The amendment prohibits the agency from using government money "to advocate or promote gun control.”

In their letter, the senators noted that while the amendment does bar research promoting gun control, it does not prohibit objective, scientific inquiries into prevention.

Obama also argued that research was not advocacy, which was what allowed the NIH to originally award grants.